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See more synonyms for heredity on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural he·red·i·ties. Biology.
  1. the transmission of genetic characters from parents to offspring: it is dependent upon the segregation and recombination of genes during meiosis and fertilization and results in the genesis of a new individual similar to others of its kind but exhibiting certain variations resulting from the particular mix of genes and their interactions with the environment.
  2. the genetic characters so transmitted.
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Compare congenital.

Origin of heredity

1530–40; < Middle French heredite < Latin hērēditāt- (stem of hērēditās) inheritance, equivalent to hērēd- (stem of hērēs) heir + -itāt- -ity
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for heredity

ancestry, constitution, inheritance, eugenics, genetics

Examples from the Web for heredity

Contemporary Examples of heredity

Historical Examples of heredity

  • By heredity and discipline all minds are shaped to this great hour.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • We see that the heredity relation is an extremely complex affair.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • Questions of heredity, procreation and education will be dealt with calmly and freely.

  • I agree that a man cannot for long conceal his true nature; we are what we are by heredity.

  • He was one of those frequent cases which give the lie to the laws of heredity.

British Dictionary definitions for heredity


noun plural -ties
  1. the transmission from one generation to another of genetic factors that determine individual characteristics: responsible for the resemblances between parents and offspring
  2. the sum total of the inherited factors or their characteristics in an organism
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Word Origin for heredity

C16: from Old French heredite, from Latin hērēditās inheritance; see heir
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for heredity


1530s, from Middle French hérédité (12c.), from Latin hereditatem (nominative hereditas) "heirship, inheritance, condition of being an heir," from heres (genitive heredis) "heir, heiress," from PIE root *ghe- "to be empty, left behind" (cf. Greek khera "widow"). Legal sense of "inheritable quality or character" first recorded 1784; the modern biological sense seems to be found first in 1863, introduced by Herbert Spencer.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

heredity in Medicine


  1. The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.
  2. One's genetic constitution.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

heredity in Science


  1. The passage of biological traits or characteristics from parents to offspring through the inheritance of genes.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

heredity in Culture


The passing of characteristics from parents to children. (See genetics.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.